Monday, 21 January 2013

Being a Godly parent...gulp!


I can clearly remember being pregnant with our eldest son. There were so many emotions stirring around with those darn hormones that hit you like a freight train...feelings of excitement, wonder, nerves, expectation, and fear to name but a few!
Aswell as hormones and emotions, there were also many many unasked for opinions, "words of wisdom," from people who had been there, done that and a whole flurry of books all wanting to tell me how to be a mum to our newborn.
I was actually quite relieved that parenting didn't come with a manual and that I had steered clear of parenting books...this allowed me to nurture, befriend and mummy my tiny boy in a way that suited us...that I didn't build up false hope or strive to be like someone else, but instead built up my own confidence as my child thrived, and our routine fell into place.
Fast forward 10 years and that tiny bundle will be 10 this coming Wednesday... and added to the brood are three more boys and a little girl! Yes...I believe I could probably write my own parenting book to add to the shelves when it comes to pregnancy, child birth and raising 0-10 year olds!

But, actually, for me...as my children get older...especially our eldest son...I'm now VERY grateful for the little pearls of wisdom that comes from mums who HAVE been there, done that! My husband and I find ourselves in new territory as parents!
Let me tell you people, parenting REALLY begins once the little cherubs are out of nappies, bored of playing with duplo and are in the big wide world of school!!! It's a whole new journey...especially once they reach Joshua's stage of nearing the end of Junior school and are behaving like a PRE-teen already!

Whilst I still have a strong confidence in my ability to parent, I've really learnt and embraced that actually the best "manual" for parenting advice is my bible- whilst it doesn't have a chapter titled "how to stop your children whining," it is full of words of encouragement, hope and wisdom for me which ultimately help me handle those whining moments. I also know the best voice to gain affirming words from is that of my Father God...who is the ultimate parent over both my children and I - He chose me to be a mummy to these 5 little people and is ready and full of the right guidance and direction for us all.....and lastly that the best reality check is to humble myself and speak with trusted friends and mums who have been through parenting a child of Joshua's age....And beyond! Of course I know every child is different, and mine totally are. Yes, the four boys are typical boys, but each has their own character, interests and behavioural traits. As for little madam princess, well she's pretty similar to most 18months old, but I am learning parenting a girl IS different to parenting boys! Hearing from others who have been where we are is encouraging...and we can chose the advice we follow...the little gems we hold onto and the ones we decide are not for us...simple! It's so much worse keeping schtum and feeling lonely and a failure!

Today, I just want to encourage other parents that we don't have to have all the answers, and we don't have to fit a certain mould as a parent, but what we do need to do is unconditionally love our children just as God unconditionally loves us and to stand by what we believe is right when it comes to being blessed with being parents.
I'm learning the older our children get, that there is an overwhelming worldly pressure to buy them the latest gadgets, a certain brand of trainers, coat, stunt scooter (yes really!) and that whatever bedtime you set, just isn't as late as Percy Pickle from class 5B!
I want to tell you, we don't have to succumb to being told how to parent our children and provide for them by the worlds view...we can be the best example to them by setting our own safe boundaries, playing fair and meeting them in compromise at times when compromise can be agreed on and mainly for those of us who have faith, by living as best as WE can to be the example of a Godly parent to them.
The bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it!"
Being a parent is challenging for anyone...but add the mix of being Christian parent into all those door slamming, stomping up the stairs, "it's not fair" moments and you learn a whole lot more about having the same grace that God shows us! It's testing, it's tiresome...and I know I'm only at the beginning of this part of the journey!!!!

I think the biggest part of the challenge for us as Christian parents is to be able to pass on and share our faith with our children whose priorities could easily become the latest fashions, gadgets, video games and so on. And lets not ignore the fact that peer pressure and media would welcome our children to at a young age experiment with alcohol, drugs and get involved sexually. These things could scare me when I think of my children growing up...but I put my trust in knowing that if my husband and I continue to live out our faith in our own family's lives- by this I mean showing love, compassion, kindness, generosity, sharing Gods word together, praying together, worshipping together, chatting together, and attending church together....our children will (and do) see this and it will become a natural way of life for them too.
The bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."
Simply this means, wherever we are, whatever we are doing...we should be living out our faith for all to see...not compromising what Gods word tells us and always being that example to our children.
Not always easy, this I know...but lets be encouraged and up for the challenge of not losing heart and keeping God in the centre of all we do...around and for our kiddies!
Of course, there are and will continue to be times when our children mess up...make mistakes...give us abit too much back chat, fib about who did actually eat all the biscuits, say a swear word, get in trouble at school for pushing Percy Pickle from class 5B (no doubt during that debate about their bedtimes!) and we as parents find ourselves in the bubble of discipline. Again, this is an area I constantly pray for wisdom in...to discipline fairly, not to lack in the right kind of discipline for each individual child and their different ages, not to overdo the discipline...it's a constant debate amongst parenting experts I'm sure - I've heard many a person say discipline is cruel, harsh, not fair, confusing for a child etc...but I trust again in what my bible tells me... in Proverbs 13:24 to be precise "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves his children is careful to discipline them!" Whilst this may read harshly, I do get the overall meaning of if we don't correct and discipline our children in the right manner (again, this is whatever works for your family) we fail them by not teaching them boundaries, good behaviour, manners and that there are consequences to how we behave. We are very much in the stage of having an 18 month old and 4 year old who get sat on the naughty step if they fail to listen when we ask them to stop something...to having a 5 and 7 year old who get sent to their bedrooms for a set amount of time and the removal of a favourite toy or game for a few days or *gasp* a full week if behaviour isn't as expected...to then having the pre-teen...who also gets things confiscated...gets sent to his room...gets grounded from parties or activities if he's pushed the limits too far...each have a chance to redeem themselves by apologising and moving on from what they were doing...and each has it explained to them by us why we felt the need to punish them.
For us...this works and our children love us, respect us and know the behaviour that is expected from them. and of course, we allow our children to correct us if the need arises. Just the other week I uttered a word at a driver that I shouldn't have who dangerously pulled out on me at a turning. Having forgotten my eldest two boys were in the back, it made me jump to hear a voice say "mummy, you just said a naughty word. That's not good!"
"Oh Grrreat!" I thought to myself, but told my boys "you know, you're so right, that wasn't good of me, and I'm really sorry I said that word. Please forgive me and don't repeat it!!!"
That simple heartfelt sentence allowed my children to know that mummy does make mistakes too, and that by me allowing them to correct me on my behaviour, I'm showing them the respect I want them to show me, and that Gods grace can flow through us all.

I know I don't have a clue what the next 5years....10years....15years....okay, okay...lifetime of parenting holds for me and my children  I do know though that I'm going to allow older, wiser, "been there, done that phase" mums to nurture me, advise me, and teach me out of love how they got through the different many seasons of raising kids...I also know I'm going to not put pressure on my family to be the UK version of the Brady Bunch...but mainly I know I have the most knowledgeable, wise, loving, graceful God on my side who adores my children so much more than me...and as much as He loves them, He loves me too..so I have every confidence if I do mess up, and utter a slightly naughty word in my car again...if my kids get me on the naughty step for half an hour (it is still a minute for every year right!) for not having the correct flavour ice-lolly in the freezer, that actually He is looking down, smiling, well pleased with this little unfolding Omokaro Legacy!

Be Blessed :-)





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